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AROUND THE STATE
AROUND THE VALLEY
THE
MUDHOUSE
OF PAYSON,
ARIZONA
The first persons to earn a living from real estate in Payson were August and Wilhelmina Pieper. Their story begins with
Mrs. Pieper’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. John Boske, who fled Germany’s tyrannical government in 1880 and came to America.

A family tradition tells that John somehow developed a friendship with the Chiricahua warrior chief Geronimo, who gave
him a notched stick for safe passage through the Apache territory.

The family had made their way to Globe, Arizona Territory, where they established a brewery and a freighting business. At
that point they sent for their daughter Wilhelmina, whom they had left with her grandmother in Hamburg, Germany.

Wilhelmina sailed to New York and then traveled by train to Bowie, Arizona Territory, where her parents had come to
meet her. On the way back to Globe a party of Chiricahua renegades stopped their stagecoach. Mr. Boske showed them the
notched stick he had received from Geronimo, and the Indians allowed the stage to proceed unharmed.
Wilhelmina’s father then sent for August Pieper, a fellow worker with him in Germany, inviting him to come to America
and join the family business. The Boskes’ daughter Wilhelmina fell in love with her father’s partner, and they were married
in 1887. Husband and wife proved themselves aggressively business-minded, as they started their own ice and beer
business in Globe.

Soon they desired to make it on their own, apart from the family, and believed Payson to be a good location for business.
They moved in 1889 and with money they had saved they bought out Henry Sidles, who wanted to leave Arizona for
California. Sidles had laid claim to the lots on either side of Main Street east of the Globe Road (today that road going south
from Main is called McLane). The structures Sidles had built included a poured mud house south of Main, and a saloon
and dance hall on the north side of Main.

August and Wilhelmina took up residence in the mud-adobe house and began expanding their business interests. The
saloon and dance hall continued to be a social center for Payson, while Pieper added a livery stable, a feed store, and a
mercantile store.
Their horses and cattle grazed along the
American Gulch in what came to be called
“Pieper’s Meadow.”

The post office was housed in the store
adjoining the saloon. Federal law prohibited a
post office in a saloon proper.
The Piepers laid squatters claim to the land on both sides of Main Street, including the American Gulch drainage. They also
staked pastureland not previously claimed on the south side of Main Street, west from the Globe Road.

In 1893 they began building the house that would be called “The Pieper Mansion.” Today’s address is 505 W. Main St.
When it was completed, they moved in and the “mud house” where they had been living became available for rent. Over
the years it was also used for storage.

The Piepers had four children, each of whom became identified with the Payson scene. Emma was born in 1889, and would
marry Napoleon “Boss” Chilson in 1913.

Ernest, their second child, would grow up to be a businessman like his dad, and take over the family real estate.

Helen, born in 1903, married a Baldwin. She died in 1995 and is buried in the Payson Pioneer Cemetery, along with her
mother and father.